Shell City: Vision Presented For ‘New Era’ of Live Entertainment In Sydney
As Sydneysiders mull over which party should govern New South Wales for the next term, a fresh vision for live music is proposed which would transform three of the city’s parklands into world-leading outdoor entertainment venues.
Through a partnership with Business Sydney and Business Western Sydney, Cedar Mill Group presents a business case for three first-of-its-kind “performance shells,” part of a plan to reinvigorate the city’s once-thriving concerts space.
Details are put forward in Greater Entertainment for Greater Sydney: Permanent Performance Shells in Sydney’s Iconic Parklands, a 50-page document that illustrates a “vision for a new era of live entertainment” in Australia’s most populous city.
At its core is the proposal for “The Domain Shell” at Eastern Harbour City; “The Crescent Shell” at Parramatta Park; and the “Bradfield Shell” at the new Thompsons Creek Regional Parkland.
The ambitious infrastructure project would create three global landmarks that would host 1.1 million attendees each year, generating over 2,300 jobs and delivering $453 million in economic impact across Greater Sydney annually, according to the report, plus $104 million in annual out-of-venue spend.
The cost? $350 million for the three shells, which are said to be acoustic high-tech structures that can host a range of performing arts, festivals, major concerts, movie screenings and community events, and are modelled on Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl and Brisbane’s Riverstage.
This “represents an exceptional public return on investment,” the report reads.
“Sydney is going through unprecedented growth, with its population forecasted to exceed eight million by mid-century,” comments Paul Nicolaou, executive director of Business Sydney.
While the city has “outstanding” sporting and business offerings, its “culture, entertainment sector and night-time economy has struggled for years and will hold back its projected growth,” he continues.
The proposed shells could fill a void in capacity typically seen with theaters up to 2,000 people, through to arenas that can hold more than 20,000.
“Permanent performance shells will create an entertainment renaissance in Sydney. They will help the CBD finally recover from lockout laws and pandemic restrictions and allow people to enjoy and connect outdoors in new ways.”
The “knock-on benefits will help Sydney compete for top talent, investment and tourism from within Australia and the world.”
ARIA and APRA Award-winning singer-songwriter Josh Pyke is keen to see the city lift its live music game.
“Having played at Riverstage in Brisbane a number of times, I’ve experienced how great it is to have access to permanent outdoor stages,” the veteran Sydney artist comments.
“Done right, the production values are lifted immediately and that makes for a better show for the artist and the community. Sydney needs to unlock its potential to be the major performance destination in Australia and creating these kinds of spaces is surely one of the keys.”
The business case is presented just days after NSW Labor leader Chris Minns unveiled his party’s plan for music.
Should the opposition Labor party win at the March 25 election, Minns and his officials announced last Wednesday (Feb. 22), the music community can rely on investment to the tune of $103 million.
Cedar Mill Group was established in 2020 by Winarch Capital.
Among the projects on the slate is a regional outdoor venue circuit including Cedar Mill Lake Macquarie, a 30,000-seat amphitheatre due to open late 2024, and plans for Cedar Mill Hunter Valley and Cedar Mill Yarra Valley, with “more locations to follow,” reads a statement from the company.